Whilst the Plus500 Brumbies were unable to get the win they desperately desired against the Waratahs, the seven-point gap a bridge too far despite a valiant last-ditch effort.
The result aside, there were plenty of positives to take from the game, one of which was the outstanding performance of returning superstar flanker David Pocock.
Here, we take a closer look at Pocock’s display, delving deep into why it was such a dominant outing for the Wallabies openside.
No better place to start than the area which made Pocock famous, the ruck! Few players in the history of the game have had the innate ability to pilfer ball as Pocock possesses. Like a Lion stalking its prey, Pocock tracks the ball as it moves into his zone, eyes wide open glazed with hunger to fetch the pill. Once he sees the opening at the ruck, he pounces. Plenty of players can follow the play and get to the ruck, but it’s at the point of contact that Pocock separates himself from the herd, or the pride as it were. Whether it’s pure physical strength or relentless determination, Pocock is simply immovable once he gets into his poaching posture. The Waratahs had plenty of guys to throw at Pocock to get him off the ball, not least Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, but even couldn’t had much effect on the enigmatic backrow. Pocock finished with three clean steals and was a constant threat on the ground, a tantalising teaser of things to come with Pocock back plying his trade in the Capital.
Pocock’s play at ruck time is appropriately lauded for it’s brilliance, but something which he isn’t given enough credit for is his link play in attack. Pocock passed the ball eight time against the ‘Tahs and also offloaded twice, that stat giving some impression of his effect when the Brumbies have the ball. Not flashy, but Pocock is always looking to shift the point of attack, to be the go between backs and forwards with the ball. It’s a role that often goes unnoticed in games, a skill the like of Richie McCaw and George Smith were known for. Pocock is perpetually moving around the park looking for work, hitting breakdown after breakdown offensively but is always prepared to pop the pill of to support when needed.
Perhaps Pocock’s greatest asset to the Brumbies is his personality. Driven by the pursuit of excellence, his work ethic alone is a source of inspiration for teammates. An activist off the field, Pocock believes in what he says and practices what he preaches. That kind of integrity permeates a squad, when Pocock says something the guys around him know it’s because he means it, a quality integral for leadership. He leads by example sure, but his wisdom is incredible, and he offers a positive outlook to all situations. That mindset to look forward with belief will be so important for the Brumbies going forward, knowing they need to improve results and quickly. With Pocock in the side, it’s only a matter of time before that happens.
The Plus500 Brumbies take on the Reds this Saturday, April 7 at GIO Stadium. Kick-off at 7.45pm, get your tickets here.